Terrified by dad, loved by God

Leggi in italiano

My name is Promise. I am 21 years old and I come from Nigeria. My father had 6 wives and 30 children and I am the last-born. He practiced magic arts and was also the spiritual leader of an occult group. In my ethnic group, he was known and feared by everyone for his powers and many people came to consult him and ask for help. Those who rebelled against his authority were killed and for this reason, many of my family members died over the years. My mother, who was a Christian believer, could not oppose marrying him but she used to take us children regularly to church. It is in this environment, full of difficulties and contrasts, that I grew up! In my ethnic group, every first male child born from each wife, was sacrificed to idols and killed personally by my father at the age of 8/9. Therefore I lost many brothers, some of which even died in car accidents. Today, there are 15 children still alive, but I can’t say for sure.

When I was 19 years old, my father, who was very old (already over 100 years old), told me that “according to the rules” I had to take his place and become the leader of his group, being the youngest child. I was desperate because this idea terrified me and I definitely did not want to become like him! Every night, I used to have horrible nightmares and couldn’t sleep well! So, strongly encouraged by my mother, one day I decided to run away, with the help of a friend of mine who had already left the village.

I left Nigeria with him, we went to Niger and passed through the Sahara desert. We then reached Libya and when we arrived in Tripoli, there were 2 barges ready to leave. My friend managed to embark on the smaller one that had about 100 passengers, while I found place on the other one, that was bigger (with about 200 passengers). The sea was rough, with strong winds, and many people wanted to postpone the departure but we left nevertheless. At night, we started having serious problems and around 4 am, I saw a big fish violently hitting our boat. We were all very afraid, but we kept on travelling for 2 days, over the Libyan waters, with great difficulty. At a certain point, the engine of the second barge stopped and it started to take on water. Very soon all the passengers ended up into the sea, and since unfortunately there were only 2 or 3 life vests on board, almost everybody died (more than 100 people – men, women and children), except one man, who was rescued by the Italian Coast Guard (alerted by an helicopter who had seen us) and this is how my friend and travel companion also died!

We too were having serious trouble and our boat was sinking, but thanks to the life vests thrown from the Italian ship, everybody was rescued, except one person, who drowned. After spending two days on the Italian ship, we arrived in Sicily on April 9th 2014, where, together with other sick people, I was taken to the hospital. I had fever and sores all over my body, furthermore I was having recurring nightmares that prevented me from sleeping.

One day an Italian young man came to visit me at the hospital, he prayed for me and gave me a Bible. Since that time, I stopped having nightmares. Later I was taken to the Hosting Center for Asylum Seekers C.A.R.A. of Mineo, and that is the place I still live at this moment, waiting to meet the Commission. My father died with one of my brothers soon after I left Nigeria, he was killed by a bomb explosion near a church. Lately, I was able to get in touch with my mom by phone. She used to manage a little food shop, but she cannot do that anymore for economic problems. It is nevertheless good to know that she is now relieved knowing I am safe. I can say that my faith in God is growing a lot and I have seen the many times He has preserved my life through all kinds of circumstances.


Roma, April 15th 2015